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SNHU and Hooksett schools exploring professional partnership

Union Leader Correspondent

November 30. 2017 9:39PM
The expanded relationship would provide more opportunities for both SNHU students and Hooksett teachers. (MELISSA PROULX/CORRESPONDENT)

HOOKSETT — The town’s schools and Southern New Hampshire University are looking into expanding their working relationship.

The school board gave the green light last week to look into creating a Professional Development School Partnership with the Hooksett elementary and middle schools. SNHU students started working with Hooksett schools more than a decade ago, but this new focus would expand that relationship.

The partnership would be symbiotic: SNHU students would get experience in the classroom while teachers at the Hooksett schools would stay up to date on the latest practices.

“As we’re learning in higher education, we’re sharing that learning with your teachers and your teachers are sharing with us the challenges of practice,” said Cathy Stavenger, associate dean at SNHU’s College of Education.

There would also be an option to earn a master’s degree at a reduced tuition rate. Those who already have a master’s degree would still be able to take courses as well.

For school board member Allan Whatley, the partnership will be vital in helping to develop the best methods for teachers moving forward. He said while there are a lot of theories about teaching, there aren’t a lot of specifics to back them up.

“That’s the key,” he said.

The partnership is something that Ben Loi, principal at the Fred C. Underhill School, said he’s looking forward to and thinks will have a positive impact.

“Having a professional development school really allows us to have that theory and practice together,” he said.

School board member and Town Councilor Jim Sullivan echoed these sentiments.

“I think this is going to be a great opportunity,” he said. “The opportunities are endless to me.”

With talks about creating a full-day kindergarten program in the district as well, both Loi and Stavenger said they thought this would lend itself well to helping that program come to fruition. SNHU students could work with Hooksett school staff to build the program from the ground up.

That would also require an addition at the Underhill school to make room for the full-day program. Voters should expect to see a warrant article about that project at the upcoming Town Meeting.

School board members decided to have SAU 15 administrators draft a warrant for a roughly $4 million bond to pay for the addition and to get rid of the portable classrooms at the school. The bond would be paid off over the course of a decade.

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